Chapter 29

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Jade had still been awake when she heard Dante leave, and she was still awake an hour later, aware that he still hadn't returned. She couldn't help but wonder where he was, and why he left so frequently late at night. She finally fell asleep, still sad and hurt by their previous meeting earlier in that evening, when he wouldn't tell her what had been bothering him.

Jade woke up frantic from another nightmare, only this time it was so much worse than it had been up to this point. Like many of the nightmares before, she was standing there, surrounded by the murdered members of her pack, the unknown assailant behind her. As it had been in the recent changes, she was able to turn and face him, only this time instead of waking up after seeing the light of the moon reflect off of the blade held by the man in the shadows, she saw Dante coming toward her. Only she wasn't able to warn him about the danger lurking in the dark. Instead, the hidden man reached out and stabbed Dante, who fell to his knees, reaching for her. She reached toward him, screaming his name, but wasn't able to move. Instead, she was frozen in place helplessly watching as the man with the knife repeatedly attacked Dante, who didn't seem able to fight back. Dante just remained there, watching her and she was forced to look into his eyes, as the life slowly drained from his body.

She was terrified and frenzied when she awoke, and without consideration, she rant to Dante's room. She had to be sure he was ok, and she was relieved to see that he was in his bed, alive and safe. He quickly jumped out of bed and ran to her, catching her in his arms, as she collapsed, the relief washing over her. Dante scooped her up into his arms and carried her to his bed, setting her down gently. She clung to him her hands pressed up next to his bare chest. He covered her trembling form with the blankets and crawled in next to her, cradling her in his arms

"You were dead" she managed to say, between sobs.

"I'm right here" he soothed. "Everything's ok, I'm here. It was just a bad dream." And he pulled her tightly into his comforting embrace, where she eventually stopped crying, and drifted back into a restless sleep. Dante didn't fall asleep for at least another hour. He wanted to protect her and take care of her, but he knew her dreams might always haunt her, and as yet she had hardly communicated anything to him about what she had been through the last several months, and it broke his heart that he couldn't do more for her. He gently kissed her brow, and brushed the hair out of her face, and he finally drifted off to sleep, never releasing her from his hold as they slept.

Dante woke up early to catch his flight, but had to force himself to let go of Jade, as she was still sleeping in his arms. He kissed her forehead before he got up and took a shower. She was still asleep when he came out of the bathroom to get dressed, but she woke up almost immediately, blushing as she saw that once again, he was just wearing a towel in front of her.

"You realize how silly it is for you to be embarrassed to see me in a towel, when you're half asleep in my bead, right?" he said, a twinkle in his eye. He couldn't explain why it made him so happy to see her snuggled up in his bed, tangled between the blankets, with just enough leg showing to make him want to dive back in to be with her.

Jade buried her face in her hands, slightly groaning at his teasing, but comfortable and unwilling to move from Dante's bed. He moved to the closet to get dressed, and dropped his towel, and Jade immediately rolled over, and buried her head under a pillow. He was a perfect specimen of rugged manliness, and she couldn't wait to wrap herself around his body someday, but today was most definitely not that day. Dante was preparing to leave to meet with the Council, and he wasn't sure if he would be back that night or not, and the thought of him being gone so long was torturous.

"You can come out now" she heard Dante say, "I'm fully clothed, no need to avert your eyes any longer." He was smirking at her when she removed the pillow from her head and sat up.

"You're a mess" he said, ruffling his hand through her tangled mass of hair. "I have to leave in about 20 minutes, so we can grab a quick bite together, if you want."

"I'll be right back" Jade responded, standing up and running out of the room, her long exposed legs tempted Dante to forego breakfast altogether for something far more enjoyable.

Jane returned in two minutes, dressed and ready to get something to eat with Dante before he left. It was still early, so they just went straight to the kitchen for their snack before he had to leave. As Dante was buttering toast, Evelyn came in.

"Jackson is bringing the car around" she said to Dante. "Good morning, dear" she said to Jade, who was sitting on the counter eating the toast that Dante had already handed to her.

"Good morning, Evelyn" Jade forced out, in a quiet whisper.

"Oh, what a lovely way to start the morning" Evelyn said, as she gave Jade a hug. "I hope we're going to get to hear more from you from now on" she said encouragingly.

"I'm going to try" Jade replied, her courage to speak in front of others already building.

"Evelyn" Dante said, "Keep an eye on this one while I'm gone, ok? I don't want her getting handsy with anyone. She tried to jump my bones last night." And he took a bite of toast, hiding his smile as he watched the color rise in Jade's cheeks.

"Dante!" Evelyn snapped, but before she could scold him further, Jade punched him in the shoulder, making him choke on his bite of toast, as he laughed.

"Well" Evelyn finally said, "I'm glad to see you sticking up for yourself. Don't let him get away with tormenting you. You feel free to dish it out as much as he does" she finished approvingly, and then she left the room.

Dante walked up to Jade and stepped between her legs as she sat on the counter, and then he rested his arms on her shoulders. "I won't be gone long" he said. "I hate that I have to leave you here." And he rested his forehead against hers.

"Hurry back" she said to him.

Jackson then came into the kitchen to let Dante know it was time to go, and they headed outside. Jade walked with them to the car, and gave Dante one more hug. He kissed the top of her head, said goodbye to everyone and gave a few quick instructions to Jimmy and Peter, and then got into the car and left.

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